Three Everyday Pigeons in Aviculture


The three genera, Columba, Turturoena, and Nesoenas, the members of which are all adept fliers, are usually placed together because they have many characteristics in common. Members of these genera are all of similar size to the Rock Dove, Columba livia, or the Wood Pigeon, C. palurnbus. The main colors are gray (typically dove-gray) and brown. The neck usually shows a characteristic sheen and pattern that plays an important role in courtship.

Most of the species inhabit wooded areas and, with the exception of the Rock Dove, are thus not often seen in rocky or coastal cliff areas, although on the Orkney Islands they have to nest on the ground as there is nowhere else to do so. Foraging for food takes place mainly on the ground; though some species also forage among the foliage of trees and shrubs.

Members of the genus Columba are to be found in most suitable areas of the world but in this respect it is important to note that biochemical studies have ascertained that the antigens (the substances in the blood which help form antibodies to fight invasions of disease causing organisms) in the blood of doves from the New World are totally different to those of the doves of the Old World. In my view, the relationship of these two groups is thus questionable, in spite of the general outward similarities of the species. Behavioral studies by the ornithologist D. Goodwin have shown that doves of the New World also have characteristics in common with the American ground doves (Colurnbina, Clarauis, Metriopilia, Scardafella, and Uropelia), a fact with which I agree. Characteristics: There cannot be many people who would not recognize this most typical of all pigeons. The size 03.75 in - 35 cm), and often the colors are similar to the feral pigeons we see in our parks, gardens and on our roads and in the public squares of London, Amsterdam, New York, Rome, Cincinnati and other great cities. We all know how tame and trusting these pigeons can be; the city dwelling birds will come boldly to peck up scraps from around your feet and, if you feed them, will land on your head or shoulders in order to take food directly from your hand! They nest on window sills and other ledges on buildings, bridges and viaducts. The wild and feral forms will breed together but the Fi hybrids are sterile.

The wild form is more compact than the feral type and, looking at it from above, is broader across the shoulders, making the body almost heartsha ped; the tail is wider and often shorter. The bill is narrower; the same applies to the cere around the bill. The cock is mainly blue-gray in color, but darker on the head and body than on the wings; there are two conspicuous black bands on the wings and the lower back, and underwings are white. There is a black stripe at the end of the tail and the outer tail feathers are partially edged in white. There is a green and purple sheen to the neck and upper breast feathers. The iris may be orange, red-orange, or gold-orange. The orbital ring is bluishgray, similar in color to the adjacent feathers. The beak is blackish, the cere white and the legs and feet red to purplish red. The hen is difficult to distinguish from the cock but her gray color may be duller and the sheen on the neck and breast not so outstanding. Juveniles are also duller in color but young cocks soon show the sheen in the neck.

There are several geographical variations and the above description applies to....